What’s New In GIS And Biological Research: 13 April 2015

13 Apr

I’m going to start this week’s summary of what’s new in biological GIS with a case study which outlines how GIS has been used to help conserve the world’s most endangered canid, the Ethiopian wolf. This study is a nice reminder of just how useful GIS can be in conservation biology, and so why it is such an important tool in the modern biological toolbox.

For those who work in the Antarctic, or for those who are just interested in it, the Maps Mania blog has a brief article about Leafarctica. This is an interactive map which allows you to explore Modis satellite data for Antarctica. You can not only zoom in on specific areas you might be interested in, but you can also select the exact date you wish to examine images for. As a result, this is a great resource for working out what Modis data might be available for a specific study area and time.

A few weeks ago, I highlighted a post about creating shapefiles from street addresses in the US, and this week I want to highlight one which explores how to create point data layers from UK post codes. This will be particularly useful for those who work on Citizen Science projects and who want to plot the data collected in a GIS.

There are also a couple of nice tips from Maybe Its A Map for ArcGIS users. The first provides a brief introduction to using the ModelBuilder module of ArcGIS. ModelBuiler is something I’m a big fan of, and I think that it’s something  many more biologists  should learn how to use as it has the ability to help them streamline their GIs data processing and analysis. The second one provides a neat tip for editing the contents of attribute tables using Find and Replace functions. This is a function I was not aware of within ArcGIS, but now I am, it’s certainly something I’ll use on  a regular basis.

For QGIS users, there’s a new command bar plugin which makes it easier to initiate Python commands in QGIS. While Python coding is not necessarily for the uninitiated, for those who already know how to use it, this will be a useful addition to QGIS. There’s also a new development for expanding the ways in which data layers can be displayed in QGIS, which will be useful for those who wish to make really clear, but fancy, maps.

Finally, for this week, I want to highlight a post which considers the future of data analytics. While this is aimed at more traditional data analytics and statistical analysis, many of the points also apply to biological data analysis. In particular, towards the end of the article, it highlights how GIS will become increasingly more important as data analytics develops, and this will most certainly be true in biology.

So these are the GIS-related things that have caught my eye this week, but, as always, I’m sure there’s a lot of other good stuff out there as well.

Dr Colin D. MacLeod,
Founder, GIS In Ecology


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